Garo ethnic Catholic receives Bangladesh's highest award
by Sumon Corraya

Aronno Chiran, 43, received the Swadhinata Purashkar 2024 for his commitment to endangered tribal cultures. A life dedicated to social activism, which now sees him working as the coordinator of the NGO Sara (Social Association for Rural Advancement). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: 'Honour those who contribute to the welfare of others'.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The award ceremony for the Swadhinata Purashkar 2024 (Independence Award), Bangladesh's highest national civilian award, was held yesterday at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka. Also receiving it directly from the hands of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was Aronno Chiran, a 43-year-old Catholic; along with nine other people.

Chiran has distinguished himself in the field of social services. Among his recognized activities are "supporting vulnerable patients in hospitals, preventing child marriage and promoting the development of marginalized sections of society," Mahbub Hossain, cabinet secretary, said at the event.

Aronno Chiran, hailing from Bhalukapara Parish of St Teresa's Church in Mymensingh, has established himself as a development worker, organiser, writer and young leader. “Among his noteworthy contributions are the conservation of endangered tribal cultures by organizing the Wangala festival of the Garo tribe and cultural programs of the Hajong community, as well as establishing and conserving tribal museums,” added Mahbub Hossain.

Chiran's social activism emerged in his student days; he has always been involved in ecclesial activities, serving as president of the Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement in the diocese of Mymensingh.

Since 2011 he has coordinated various intervention activities of the NGO Sara (Social Association for Rural Advancement), serving as president of the Shanti Mitra Samajkalyan Sanstha and the Tribal Welfare Association Mymensingh Branch, and as general secretary of the Oikya Parishad of Tribal Organizations of Greater Mymensingh .

"I have assisted many needy people in hospitals, helping them to access treatment, distributed educational materials and promoted scholarships for deserving students, often financing these activities with donations from wealthy people", Aronno Chiran told AsiaNews.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the ceremony he praised the people who work daily "not for their own good, but for the betterment of society". "I invite everyone to seek out and honor those who work diligently in various villages and areas - she continued. "Often these individuals they do not seek recognition. The greatest reward lies in recognizing those who, on their own initiative or out of passion, contribute to the well-being of others."

“I simply work for the well-being of needy people in society,” Chiran said for his part. Sheikh Hasina Finally, she congratulated all the awardees, expressing the hope that the Swadhinata Purashkar will inspire a large number of people to strive for the betterment of society and the nation.

The award also represents a moment of joy for the Garo Christian community of the diocese of Mymensingh, which every day faces the challenges of being a religious minority in a Muslim-majority country.

“Aronno is a very active Catholic who volunteers tirelessly for those in need. His work is exemplary and we are happy with his success,” said Fr. Anjon Julian Jambil, priest of the diocese of Mymensingh and of the Garo tribe, expressing the pride of the entire community.

Besides Chiran, two people - Kazi Abdur Sattar and Bir Pratik - were honored as freedom fighters; two others, Md Fazlul Haque and Shaheed Abu Nayeem Md Najib Uddin Khan (Khurram), in the "Independence and Liberation War" category.

For “Science and technology” Dr. Mubarak Ahmad Khan, while for the "medicine" category Dr. Harishankar Dash. Mohammad Rafiquzzaman in the “culture” category, Firoza Khatun in “sport”. Together with the charismatic Catholic, in the field of social services, prof. dr. Mollah Obayedullah Baki and HM Abraham Lincoln. Each awardee received a gold medal, a certificate and an honorarium of Tk 300,000.